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Bruce McArthur could go to trial earlier than expected after the alleged serial killer agreed on Monday to waive his right to a preliminary hearing.

The decision was announced when the 67-year-old landscaper appeared in court to be formally arraigned on eight counts of murder of men with ties to Toronto’s Gay Village.

A preliminary hearing is a court proceeding where the prosecution's case is tested to see if there is enough evidence to go to trial.

Skipping that initial phase would streamline a massive criminal case that includes thousands of exhibits and involves eight homicides over a seven-year span.

Mr. McArthur is now to appear before Superior Court Justice John McMahon on Nov. 5 to set a trial date.

“The process is moving forward. I’m happy for the families, the witnesses that would have to testify at the preliminary hearing,” Toronto police Detective David Dickinson told reporters. “At least we don’t have to do that. Now we can focus on moving forward to the trial.”

He said the families of the eight men Mr. McArthur is charged with murdering are relieved that they won’t have to sit twice through the testimony.

One community organizer at the hearing also said it was good news. “The sooner that we can put this to rest and the families have answers, I think the better it is,” said Haran Vijayanathan, executive director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention.

Negotiations between Crown and defence to skip the preliminary hearing had been going on for weeks.

It was the first time in months that Mr. McArthur had appeared in person in court. Looking thinner than before and having shaved his goatee, he stood in the glass-enclosed box for the accused as the charges were read – eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, Majeed Kayhan, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman.

Just feet away from Mr. McArthur sat friends and relatives of the eight men, including Mr. Kinsman’s two sisters.

Det. Dickinson said a six-officer police team is still receiving tips and reviewing cold cases to see if they might be linked to Mr. McArthur. There is, however, no evidence so far that he was involved in a homicide before 2010 when the first of the eight men went missing.

The Toronto Police Service has said the case is the largest forensic examination in its history. Investigators executed 44 search warrants and production orders. About 1,800 pieces of evidence were collected during a four-month search of Mr. McArthur’s apartment.

Police also searched more than 100 locations tied to Mr. McArthur’s landscaping business. However, the remains of the eight men were all found at one property and in a ravine nearby.

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